I was watching this old movie (four “Mads”) on TV last night. I call such movies Dead People Movies because everyone in it, even the youngest, has long since died.
The movie was made in 1963, and I think it pulled together all of the famous stars in a last-ditch effort to counter the effects of TV on the box-office receipts. Every comedian I can think of from that era is in it, ironically even those made famous by TV, such as Milton Berle. Even a few non-comedians, such as Spencer Tracy and Ethyl Mermen, starred in it.
The original version was very long, 197 minutes, and United Artists shortened it with severe cuts. The cuts deteriorated over the years, and it was thought impossible to restore the original, but MGM and UA hired an expert to do it. The restored version (which I have never seen) is now available on DVD, released in 2014. I should see if our local library has it.
The plot to tie all of this together and long enough to give each star their proper screen time, is a masterpiece. I won’t describe it because it is simple and probably familiar to most of you.
Some of the stars and their movie characters (I may have missed your favorite) are:
Spencer Tracy, Capt. T. G. Culpepper.
Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Cab Driver.
Edie Adams, Monica Crump.
Jim Backus, Tyler Fitzgerald.
Ben Blue, Biplane Pilot.
Jack Benny, Man in Car (uncredited).
Milton Berle, J. Russell Finch.
Joe E. Brown, Union Official.
Sid Caesar, Melville Crump.
Andy Devine, Sheriff of Crockett County.
Jimmy Durante, Smiler Grogan.
Leo Gorcey, Cab Driver.
Buddy Hackett, Benjy Benjamin.
Edward Everett Horton, Mr. Dinckler.
Peter Falk, Cab Driver.
Buster Keaton, Jimmy the Crook.
Don Knotts, Nervous Motorist.
Jerry Lewis, Driver Running Over Hat (uncredited).
Ethel Merman, Mrs. Marcus.
Zasu Pitts, Gertie – Switchboard Operator.
Dorothy Provine, Emeline Marcus-Finch.
Carl Reiner, Tower Controller.
Mickey Rooney, Ding Bell.
Dick Shawn, Sylvester Marcus.
Phil Silvers, Otto Meyer.
Arnold Stang, Ray.
Terry-Thomas, J. Algernon Hawthorne.
The Three Stooges, Firemen.
Jonathan Winters, Lennie Pike.
(This list looks fine with my browser and computer. Yours may change the format, but you can sort it out. Some stars may only appear on the DVD.)